RIP, Hershel Williams

Uncle_Duke

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The Citation:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945.

Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions.

Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another.

On one occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants, and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon.

His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective.

Cpl. Williams' aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."
 
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JR Brackin

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I was very fortunate to meet Mr. Williams. He came to speak at a men's breakfast at our church that one of my nephews and I attended.

He talked about his experiences in WWII and the cause of the combat stress he felt. Apparently someone decided that he was to learn to operate a flamethrower and was brought out of the line. That night he was supposed to be in a forward listening post and those who went in his place never came back. He lived with the common "why not me" syndrome that affects many. He went on to talk about the MoH and constantly gave credit to those who were working with him on that day and felt that the honor was theirs.

In 1962 he was dragged to a church service on Easter by his daughters and converted to Christianity. He went on to serve the Medal of Honor society for 35 years as Chaplain.

One other remembrance for me, as a lifetime Philadelphia Eagles fan I was of course watching the Super Bowl and who was the man who tossed the coin at the pre-game - none other than Hershel - my nephew and I both jumped up yelled - we met him. Yes, I believe that was a good omen for the Eagles that day!

RIP - Hershel Williams!
 

Gordon

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Always remember to give a salute to any member of the armed forces who are on the sharp end of combat,
They deserve it, even more so to those who return from it.
I don't think it is proper protocol for a civilian to salute. But by all means, show proper respect for their service.
 

Hutch

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The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un- uniformed service members, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.

Saluting soldiers is not a recommended way to honor current or former members of the Armed Forces. Even members of the Armed Forces do not salute when out of uniform. A salute is part of the official protocols that active soldiers follow. Outside official duties, the military salute is rarely displayed.
 

Gordon

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The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un- uniformed service members, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.
Did not know, thanks.
 

Actionjick

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It's the intent that counts whether or not proper protocol is followed. RIP Sir.
 

Hutch

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I am sorry, I did not intent to derail this thread with the salute protocol.
This thread was about a hero who served his Country with Honor.
RIP to a Great Marine.
 

Actionjick

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I am sorry, I did not intent to derail this thread with the salute protocol.
This thread was about a hero who served his Country with Honor.
RIP to a Great Marine.
No disrespect intended I am quite sure of that! Threads wander. It happens.
 

PresterJohn

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I believe the appropriate compliment to pay in greeting is to tip your hat.
If the compliment is to be "held" then you remove your hat and hold it in your right hand over your heart.
At least in my part of the world it is the correct compliment to pay to one such as he. Practising the honours and traditions is important.
 

pensatl1962

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The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un- uniformed service members, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.

Saluting soldiers is not a recommended way to honor current or former members of the Armed Forces. Even members of the Armed Forces do not salute when out of uniform. A salute is part of the official protocols that active soldiers follow. Outside official duties, the military salute is rarely displayed.
Good info. But how many of us veterans would actually read the authorization language? Lol.
I also recall in my deep memory vault that different services had different protocols for saluting. In the Navy, we would never salute while uncovered, let alone in civilian attire. Other services did.
 

bendizoid

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In private I salute whomever I am so inclined.
In public I leave saluting for the veterans. Even though I did play high school football for my country and as a Boy Scout learned how to properly salute (special two finger scout salute), technically I can still do the two finger scout salute, however, I prefer to take my hat off as a small token of a deeper respect instead.
 
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Vic Provost

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Not a Vet (grew up in the Vietnam era, had a draft card and was not keen on going, luckily did not have to) as many in my generation here in the USA was against the war of the time but I do either offer my greetings or tip my cap or remove it for any Vet, they are the best of us for the most part.
 

Eagle4ty

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My father, 80, salutes during the playing of the national anthem.
If a veteran & under cover (with a hat on-military/veteran-authorized-authorized-style or not) he can render the military salute with no problem of "violating" current accepted or lawful protocols. If he's a member of the VFW/American Legion/American Veterans Association/etc. and under cover with authorized head gear he is required to render the military salute (hand over heart optional with removal of head gear) at the passing of the colors, presentation of the colors (e.g flag rasing, lowering to half staff, etc), Retiring of the colors (including during the playing of Taps at a funeral, etc), or the playing of bugle calls that denote such, presentation of the Medal Of Honor (including being worn) by or for the recipient and the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.

Being 80 years old there's a good chance your father was a veteran (the definition was also changed-probably under R. Reagan, as now only service is required to be considered a vet, not only combat service time) and even a minor faux-pas with regards to protocol can easily forgiven with his positive reaction. 💖

P.S. There's a good chance I had met Mr Williams, if only briefly, when I was on a color guard at a reunion of Medal of Honor recipients back in the early '90s. My guess he's on duty at the Pearly Gates and sooner or later we'll all have to pass his muster. Semper Fi, Marine!
 
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